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When Hollywood crowns a new star, you know it. Just a few short months ago that’s exactly what they did with Lupita Nyong’o as a result of her riveting portrayal of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed “12 Years a Slave.” Subsequently, on Oscar Sunday 2014, the world applauded as Nyong’o received Hollywood’s highest honor with her win as Best Supporting Actress. Almost a year later, the world is still singing her prasies.

Nyong’o has been the talk of Hollywood for everything from her flawless skin and striking beauty to her head turning fashion. Unafraid of bold colors, plunging neck lines and flowing skirts her graceful elegance is undeniable. With each fashion statement, Nyong’o has proven herself a staple at the top of the most prestigious best dressed lists.

Born in Mexico but raised in Kenya, Nyong’o ‘s father is a professor turned politician and her mother is a business owner as well as the managing director of the African Cancer Foundation. Realizing early on her attraction to acting, Nyong’o attended Hampshire College where she received her bachelor’s in film and theatre. She later obtained her masters in acting by way of the Yale School of Drama.

Dig deeper and you will find there is much more to Nyong’o than her acting ability and fashion savvy. Struggles with self image because of her complexion caused Nyong’o to feel inadequate and insecure; feelings the most women can relate to. While the performances of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” inspired her acting, it was South Sudanes Alek Wek’s emergence as a supermodel that inspired her to embrace the beauty of her “night-shaded” skin.

It is because of that struggle and her willingness to share it with the world that Nyong’o has not only captivated us with the mastery of her craft but also endeared us with her ability to eloquently express her vulnerabilities. Furthermore, Nyong’o’s delivery of a heart wrenching speech at the Essence: Black Women of Hollywood luncheon centered around a letter received from a young girl facing similar struggles allows us a glimpse beyond her outer beauty into the magnificence of her spirit as she encourages us to “get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”

While no one knows what the future holds for this beauty, the one thing that is certain is that she will approach it with the same dignity and grace as she has her sudden rise to stardom. And as a celebrated Women of Power, Lupita Nyong’o has electrified the silver screen and inspired young and seasoned women alike while reminding everyone that “your dreams are valid.” The mark of true power is the ability to lead others to their own…Nyong’o is doing just that.
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